All posts for Uncategorized / General in December 2021


A World Awaited And Attained, 2021 Edition

The world awaited is not yet the world attained, but the fighting spirit burns on.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-31 21:00:00 No comments


I first posted this in January 2017. I post it again today. The world awaited is not yet the world attained, but the fighting spirit burns on. Spero meliora.

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Tags: Barrows Dunham these troubled times

Quit Daydreaming!

Escapism is just the snidest word for something that our collective survival may well depend on.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-30 12:00:00 No comments


Go on, say the word out loud: escapism. My educated guess is, most of the people who deign to read this blog (hello, all six of you) are not going to mangle that word into a sneer. Still, you got to admit, that's how it is said most of the time: as something derogatory and dismissive, as something to be grown past or gotten over. Except they never really mean it that way; it's always someone else's "escapism" that's childish/immature, while one's own escapism is not "escapism" but recreation. Being a moralizing scold has always been a prime way to club others on the lower rungs into submission.

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Tags: creativity entertainment escapism

The Impossible Immutable

In a story that spans multiverses and multi-selves, do we even need to talk about a "self"?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-26 12:00:00 No comments


Fellow author Kira Leigh (whose queer SF endeavors to refresh the parts other beers do not reach) had this to say the other day:

It's lovely being an author who writes stories across timelines/worlds/dimensions. Same cast, different circumstances.

What's hard is that, no doubt, there will be a moment where someone asks me to pin down an explicit character aspect.

...what if that's impossible?

If authors are writing multiverses, how far does it go?

Are some things innate? Why?

Can they change? How?

I like the idea that characters are simply themselves in that spot of time, wherever and however that is.

Sort of scuttles innateness though, doesn't it?

Anyone who's followed this blog for more than ten minutes knows about my affinity for the Zen Buddhism take on the concept of the "innate" or the "self": there ain't no such thing, except in the sense of a convenient label or a reference point. I call myself "I" because it's the easy thing to do for everyone else's sake, not because I will always be the "I" that called themselves "I" just now. You aren't the same person you were when you were five years old; you're not even the same person you were five minutes ago, before you started reading this. Existence, including the existence of selves, is about the history of dynamic processes and continuity of change, not about the history of static things that watch the universe go by.

And — this part is really important, gang — we take this point of view not for the sake of denying others their personhood, but for the sake of taking ourselves that much less seriously. Selflessness isn't something you beat other people over the head with to club them into submission. It's something you use to interrogate yourself from the inside out. (No one else gets to do that for you. If they say they can, they're lying.)

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Tags: Buddhism Kira Leigh Zen fiction psychology science fiction

Desert Power, Desert Vision

How "Dune" (2021) 's reception as both a cult item and a mainstream entertainment are significant.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-19 21:00:00 No comments


Purchase on Amazon

I finally saw the first part of Denis Villeneuve's Dune the other night, thanks to the magic of Plex, and my only regret was not being able to see it in a theater. It's only half the movie, as it were, and that's why this isn't a review proper (though I may change my mind when the disc shows up in January), but it's excellent all the same. It also made me think about how its reception as both a cult item and a mainstream entertainment are significant.

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Tags: Alejandro Jodorowsky Denis Villeneuve Dune James Cameron

Struck Down By The Moment

"If I stop to look at reality, I think I’ll be struck down, and I don’t want to be." -- Pedro Almodóvar

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-14 21:00:00 No comments


When COVID was ravaging Spain in 2020, Pedro Almodóvar tried not to let it stop him:

“If I stop to look at reality, I think I’ll be struck down,” he wrote in an online Spanish newspaper. “And I don’t want to be.”

The linked article, by the way, is a great look at Almodóvar and his work, including some insight into his creative process. But that sentence in particular jumped out at me. It's not that he doesn't want to face reality, but be struck down by it. The size and totality of the terror and the grief, especially of the here-and-now, would stop anyone, and it has.

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Tags: Pedro Almodóvar creativity these troubled times

I Know What The F@!$% I'm Doing

At what point can you say to yourself "I know what I'm doing" and not be arrogant or pigheaded, but simply correct? Is there in fact any way to know this for yourself?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-12 12:00:00 No comments


Some time back — on the order of years, rather than months — I decided I wasn't going to benefit much, if anything, from formal "help" in writing like workshops or what have you. I'd reached a point that to me felt self-sustaining — that whatever help I needed with my work, it was going to come from looking to other people's work and not other people's advice. I didn't want to read any more books about writing, or story structure, or characterization, or what have you, when I could turn to other people's work and see for myself how such things were embodied in this work or that one.

Maybe it's an arrogant feeling, but I strongly suspect the biggest steps one can take as a creator always feel like arrogance. Still, there's an interesting dilemma here: At what point can you say to yourself "I know what I'm doing" and not be arrogant or pigheaded, but simply correct? Is there in fact any way to know this for yourself?

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Tags: advice creativity

The Doldrumite

On the creative paralysis that existed in the worst times of my depression.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-12 00:00:00 No comments


Some posts back I talked about some projects I'd abandoned, one of them being a book that turned out to have been a bad version of Notes From Underground. One hilarious side effect to realizing this was how it rekindled my interest in Dostoevsky and spurred me to re-read all of his work, available in far better translations now than when I'd been in college.

But I realize now I've elided talking about the reason I wrote that travesty in the first place. I was in the middle of easily the worst and most paralyzing depression of my life, a period of time so bad that the only real details I remember about it are the ways I faked not being depressed to keep everyone else from worrying.

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Tags: creativity depression

Insurance Policy

"The act of chasing everyone is probably keeping you from reaching anyone." - Seth Godin

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-11 12:00:00 No comments


I've written before about the idea that there is no way to make a work critic-proof, or to ensure that it will resist all attempts to nitpick it. This is a pre-emptively failed ambition, and I will never stop inveigling against it.

Part of the price paid for the existence of any work is the certainty that someone, somewhere, will not like it. Such is life. Even something as allegedly universal and inoffensive as a bowl of tomato soup has its enemies (for instance, people whose stomachs are exceptionally sensitive to tomato). I separate all this from the urge to be intentionally obnoxious, and I submit said urge and the general urge to find one's true distinctions are not so hard to tell apart.

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Tags: audiences creativity

This Fitting-In Business

I'm not against the idea of stepping to different drummers, but how the word "nonconformity" has had all the meaning tortured out of it by thoughtless use.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-10 12:00:00 No comments


One of the words I've come to loathe the most is genius, because of the way it's been misused. Coming in at a very close #2 is nonconformity, not because I am against the idea of stepping to different drummers, but because of how the word has had all the significance tortured out of it by well-meaning but thoughtless discourse.

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Tags: nonconformity philosophy

Canonical Criteria

Friends of mine and I were talking about the idea of a canon or pantheon of great movies, and how to select them. We had a fun debate about the criteria, and eventually I drew up a list.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-09 12:00:00 No comments


Friends of mine and I were talking about the idea of a canon or pantheon of great movies, and how to select them. We had a fun debate about the criteria, and eventually I drew up a list. 

For me a "great" movie needs to satisfy at least one of the following:

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Tags: aesthetics criticism movies

Latent Images

Cult movies? In my UHD 4K format? It's more common than I thought it would be.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-08 12:00:00 No comments


When the UHD-BD format debuted, I was sure many common mainstream films would get lavish reissues, and on that score I wasn't let down. Some of those mainstream projects are favorites of mine: both Blade Runners, 2001: a space odyssey, the first two Alien films, both incarnations of Ghost In The Shell, and so on. I was even fairly sure Criterion would get in on the game (as they did with Citizen Kane). What I was less certain of was whether older catalog titles or cult items would get the 4K treatment.

Now consider the following titles all arriving, or already arrived, in 4K:

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Tags: UHD-BD 4K cult movies home video movies

Public Image Limited

In re: "People care as much or more about their identity and having it validated as they care about material interests."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-04 12:00:00 No comments


Brad DeLong (why aren't you reading him?) said this:

People care as much or more about their identity and having it validated—what Max Weber called their “ideal interest”, ideal not in the sense of optimal but as opposed to material, in in the sense that it is a thing of internal thought and perception rather than of solid, external physicality—as they care about material interests.

I think statements like these are key to understanding what has been happening in this country politically not just for the last four years but the last twenty, the last fifty, the last you-name-it. It is part and parcel of John Steinbeck's idea that "the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires". How we see ourselves determines how we see everything else, and in turn shapes how we act on both ourselves and everyone else.

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Tags: Brad DeLong politics psychology sociology

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